🌎 Streaming's new bundle arises

Plus: China can’t afford to worry about inflation
🌎 Streaming's new bundle arises

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Walmart and Paramount+ struck a streaming deal. The entertainment company’s content will be a perk for Walmart’s subscribers in what’s largely seen as a challenge to Amazon. (More on Walmart’s upcoming earnings below).

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund went on a US stock buying spree… Shares of Alphabet, Zoom, and Microsoft were among the top picks.

…while Michael Burry’s firm sold almost all its holdings. The investor retained shares in just one company, Geo Group, which invests in prisons and mental health facilities.

WeWork’s ousted CEO Adam Neumann won new backers. Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz invested $350 million in his new real estate startup, the New York Times reported.

Starbucks sought a union-voting freeze. The coffee shop chain called for a pause in mail-in votes nationwide to investigate whether the National Labor Relations Board is secretly supporting organizing efforts in Kansas.

Apple cut HR roles. Having anticipated a hiring freeze, the Cupertino giant laid off 100 recruiter contractors. It also changed its remote work policy.

What to watch for

Walmart and Target report earnings today and tomorrow, respectively. The US retail giants are considered to be bellwethers not just of the state of their industry, but overall American spending habits.

Both Walmart and Target have issued profit warnings as excess inventory forced a reduction in the prices of goods like apparel, which the retailers had stocked up on to avoid supply disruptions. Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, also cut about 200 corporate roles this month.

Analysts expect Walmart to report a higher revenue but lower earnings on a year-over-year basis. A similar scenario is expected for Target. A closer look at the retailers’ areas of growth can show how customers’ habits are adapting to inflation. While US inflation didn’t grow in July, food prices were still rising—which should boost Walmart and Target’s revenue in the grocery aisle, but might do little to lower those other inventory piles.

China can’t afford to worry about inflation

The about-face China’s central bank did on rate cuts caught markets and analysts off guard. It’s a strategy shift that indicates just how challenging an economic situation Beijing faces as it battles covid flare-ups, imposes pandemic lockdowns, and contends with a real estate meltdown.

A line graph showing China's medium-term lending facility one-year rate, and how it's gone down since 2019.
Graphic: Mary Hui

The real question is if the rate cuts will actually do anything to boost China’s economy. If new economic data for July published yesterday is any indication, it’ll be a steep uphill battle. Retail sales, industrial output, and fixed asset investment last month all missed expectations by a wide margin.

As inflation rocks economies globally, for China’s central bank, recovery is still its top priority. Any worries banking authorities have about inflation will have to take a backseat to the more urgent task of trying to rev up the country’s economic engine.

Redbox’s wild ride ends quite predictably

Redbox, one of the strangest meme stocks of the retail-trading era, came to its utterly unsurprising, yet somehow still inexplicable, conclusion last week when it sold to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment for $370 million.

While Redbox—the money-losing DVD vending machine company—may have been one of the dumbest meme stocks, there’s no denying it had many of the typical ingredients that have made companies like GameStop and Blackberry meme stalwarts. Redbox’s stock was cheap; it had some customer-facing nostalgia; and there was a lot of short-selling going on.

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…while extreme heat has unveiled shipwrecks, ghost villages, and ancient cities. For instance, a town covered by water in the early 1990s has re-emerged in Galicia, Spain.

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Instant noodles may become less cheap. Makers of the packaged noodles want to raise prices, which have stayed the same for 14 years in Thailand.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, $20,000 trash cans, and shrimp on the barbie to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Mary Hui, Michelle Cheng, and Morgan Haefner.